India pledges $1 billion to Nepal in quake reconstruction efforts

  • Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
  • Updated: Jun 25, 2015 11:24 IST

Exactly two months after a devastating quake struck Nepal, India on Thursday pledged $1 billion as aid to help Nepal in its reconstruction and rebuilding efforts.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj made this announcement at the inaugural session of the International Conference on Nepal's Reconstruction being held in Kathmandu.

"India stands ready to provide a lead and shoulder its responsibilities towards Nepal, our oldest and closest friend and neighbour," she said while reiterating India's commitment to help the quake-hit country.

Swaraj mentioned that one-fourth of the total amount, $250 million, will be provided as grant.

"This pledge is over and abode our existing bilateral developmental assistance of another $1 billion dollars over the next five years, 40% of which would be grant," she added.

This takes India's total assistance to Nepal over the next five years to $2 billion.

India also committed to provide technical assistance and expertise in reconstruction and rebuilding.

Speaking right after Swaraj, her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi announced China's assistance of RMB 3 billion ($483 million) over the next three years. "China stands ready to do whatever we can," he said.

Beijing's assistance including those for ongoing projects would total RMB 4.7 billion ($757 million) and would be utilized in infrastructure, livelihood, cultural heritage, disaster preparedness and housing sectors.

Both Swaraj and Wang also had a brief meeting on the sidelines of the conference where they discussed bilateral issues.

Japan and USA also pledged to provide $260 million and $130 million respectively to Nepal.

Earlier Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala had appealed to the international community to help in reconstruction efforts.

"We need to recover, and rebuild better and stronger. We need partnerships to restore permanency in their (quake survivors) lives," he said in his inaugural address at the international donors' meet.

More than 280 delegates from 30 countries and international agencies are taking part in the day-long event.

Over 8,800 people were killed, more than 22,000 injured and over 500,000 houses destroyed and 279,000 others damaged in the April 25 and May 12 quakes that struck the country.

A Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report released last week says Nepal needs nearly $6.6 billion -- a third of the country's economy -- to recover from the devastating quakes.

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